The unprecedented Moomin comic strips exhibition introduces the world of Moomins through 280 items

Moomin Comic Strips Exhibition – the Art of Tove and Lars Jansson is an exhibition of Moomin material that has never been shown in Japan before. Approximately 280 original comic drawings and sketches are being exhibited at once in a touring exhibition opening today.

The very first time Tove Jansson’s original Moomin drawings were exhibited in Japan was in 1997 at the “Moomin and the Children of the Midnight Sun” exhibition, held at 6 different venues around the country. Since then, numerous Moomin exhibitions have delighted Moomin fans in Japan.

The existence of Moomin comics has helped the Moomin brand become widely known and has contributed to the popularity surrounding the Moomins today. To celebrate the Moomin 75th Anniversary, Moomin Comic Strips Exhibition – the Art of Tove and Lars Jansson exhibition in Japan will focus on Moomin comics and introduce stories that have not been translated into Japanese. The exhibition also highlights unique characters appearing only in comics.

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The great history of the Moomin comics by Tove and Lars Jansson

The comics by Tove Jansson (1914-2001), began to be published in the British newspaper The Evening News in 1954. With the cooperation and help of her younger brother Lars Jansson (1926-2000), the series continued to be published for more than 20 years. At its peak, Moomin comics were published in over 40 countries, 120 newspapers, and read by 20 million people.

Tove Jansson and Lars Jansson_photo Per Olov Jansson
Tove Jansson and Lars Jansson. Photo: Per Olov Jansson

Tove wrote and drew the Moomin comics for The Evening News, helped from the very beginning by Lars who translated the Swedish text into English. In 1957, Lars started to help his sister with the scripts too, as Tove struggled to find time for every project she had at that time.

The first Moomin comic strip Tove and Lars made together was #14 Moomin Goes Wild West (1957). The siblings wrote the text together and Tove drew the illustrations. In 1959 Lars took on the role as the Moomin cartoonist, giving his sister more time to concentrate on being an artist and not just a cartoonist.

Lars had never drawn anything, as he was a writer. But by practicing he developed his skill and the first Moomin comic by Lars Jansson, #22 Moomin’s lamp, was published in 1960. The last Moomin comic strip Lars made was #73 Moomin and the Ten Piggy Banks in 1975.

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Lars Jansson: Moomin and the Ten Piggy Banks, 1975

Lars Jansson’s daughter Sophia Jansson says: “I grew up watching my father over his shoulder draw the Moomin comic strips from very early childhood until I was in my early teens. For me, these comic strips were my real introduction to the Moomin universe.”

The unprecedented theme of the exhibition

The unique point of this exhibition is that, unlike past exhibitions in Japan, all of the exhibits are from Moomin Characters’ collection. The company was founded in the 1950s by Tove and Lars Jansson to oversee the copyright of the Moomins and is still today run by family members.

The exhibition comprised of Moomin comics drawn by Tove and Lars of the Jansson family is unprecedented. Most of the pieces at the exhibition are being shown in Japan for the first time. The interesting fact is that Moomin fans can observe different touches between the creations of Tove and that of Lars. 

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Exhibition curators hope fans enjoy the rich world of the Moomins through the 280 items that have been released for the first time in Japan, such as sketches and original pictures.

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Tove Jansson Moomin and the Golden Tail 1958

 

Especially in Japan, the recognition of the comics is lower than the novels and the animated series. Therefore, this exhibition has new and fascinating information for Japanese Moomin fans. Part of the exhibition are the following Moomin comics, translated into Japanese for the very first time: #63 Moomin in Ancient Egypt, #68 Moomin Gets Rich, #71 Moomins in Battle, #73 Moomin and the Ten Piggy Banks.

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The exhibition starts its tour from Matsuya Ginza

The Moomin Comic Strips Exhibition – the Art of Tove and Lars Jansson shows Lars Jansson’s comic strips for the first time in Asia. Even more thrilling is the fact that only a few of the original comic illustrations have ever been displayed outside of Finland.

The exhibition opens today on 24th September at Matsuya Ginza, one of the most luxurious and respected department stores in Japan. Mid-October the exhibition will be relocated to the Sagawa Art Museum and the third location will be The Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki. The historical Moomin comic exhibition will visit a total of eleven locations until the end of September 2022.

Exclusive Moomin Comic exhibition goods

Customers visiting the exhibition will also have a great and unique possibility to purchase limited-edition Moomin products curated only for the exhibition. T-shirts, dishes, bags, keyrings, etc are sold in the shop, accessible with an exhibition ticket only.

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Limited edition comic illustration Moomin mugs

Designed and produced separately from the exhibition, a new series of Moomin mugs with comic illustrations has launched at the same time as the opening of the exhibition. The new Moomin mugs produced in Finland are the newest addition to the product assortment at the Scandex shop at the Matsuya Ginza department store.

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Moomin mug Friendship produced by VAJA Finland
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Moomin mug Love produced by VAJA Finland

The products are designed together with Matsuya Ginza and Scandex and produced by the Finnish company VAJA Finland, which creates high-quality and timeless tableware without forgetting the great utility features. The high-quality products are made in VAJA Finland’s own factory, where they cherish traditional ways of handcraft.

Hiroko Yokokawa, who has been involved in Moomin for many years and had a close relationship with Tove Jansson, developed the design ideas and chose the specific Moomin comic illustrations for the mugs. Eiji Sakagawa, an art director who has a close friendship with Ms. Yokokawa, worked with the form of the mugs and the beautiful lines drawn by Tove that express the world of Moomin comics.

“The large VAJA Finland mug is perfect when you want to spend your precious time with delicious coffee. The selected Moomin comic illustrations will embellish those moments with their stories”, Hiroko Yokokawa says.

Two mugs with a comic strip illustration, LOVE and FRIENDSHIP, will be available as long as stock lasts, made as a limited set. Unfortunately, the mugs can only be bought from the Scandex shop at the Matsuya Ginza department store due to the limited number of products. The third mug called LIFE will be launched later this year.

 

Welcome to visit the Moomin Comics exhibition!

  • Matsuya Ginza Department Store, Tokyo, 24th September – 12th October
  • Sagawa Art Museum, Shiga, 24th October – 11th January 2021
  • Ibaraki Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki, 16th January – 14th March 2021
  • Okayama City Museum, Okayama, March – May 2021
  • Fukuoka Museum of Art, Fukuoka, May – July 2021
  • Hiroshima Museum of Art, Hiroshima, July – September 2021
  • Sogo Museum of Art, Kanagawa, November – January 2022
  • Nagasaki Museum of Art, Nagasaki, January – March 2022
  • Ehime Museum of Art, Ehime, April – May 2022
  • Fuji Art Museum, Tokyo, June – August 2022